As reported by The Local Switzerland on Monday, March 9th, a truck containing approximately 240,000 protective masks was stopped by German customs before it could cross the border into Switzerland.
There have been widespread media reports that Germany, along with other European countries such as France, have put in place restrictions on the export of medical supplies.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has however denied this, saying “there is no export ban. We just want to make sure the medical materials are in the right hands”.
On Wednesday, another shipment – this time of surgical gloves which had been produced in China but were destined for Switzerland – was stopped in Germany.
As reported in the Tages Anzeiger, the Swiss Economics Department said it was one of many shipments that had been detained in Germany. Another shipment was detained on Wednesday, this time from Italy.
The situation is particularly severe for Switzerland as the country, unlike neighbours France and Germany, produces very little protective gear.
Avoiding 'mask hysteria'
Health officials have frequently told the general public that healthy people should not wear masks and to refrain from purchasing them as they make it more difficult for sick people and medical professionals to access them.
According to the WHO, around 80 percent of people who contract the new coronavirus recover without needing special treatment.
Around one out of every six people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
Some 3.4 percent of cases are fatal, according to the latest WHO figures. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.